Cruise tourism generated 75,050 jobs and $976 million in employee wages in Latin America and the Caribbean in the past three years, according to a study by Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
As many as 23.6 million passengers cruised through the region, says the report, which is prepared once every three years. What is new in the report is that average expenditure per passenger has increased 8 percent from the previous three years, reaching $2.45 billion.
Furthermore, this time passengers were found spending more money on onshore excursions and local crafts and souvenirs.
The FCCA – whose members operate about 100 vessels traveling in the waters of Florida, the Caribbean and parts of Latin America – is looking for new ways to increase the number of passengers. Although some analysts disagree, cruise tourism is believed to be one of the key components of economic engine in LAC region, particularly in the Caribbean.
According to US-based Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA), the cruise industry contributes a total of $2 billion each year to the Caribbean economies.
Cruise ships only stay for few hours in a country before moving on to another, and passengers spend much of their money in onboard cafes rather than shops on beaches. Therefore, Costa Rica has proposed a new legislative bill, which promises to reduce from $3 to $1.5 the municipal tax paid by tourists who disembark from cruise ships in the port of Puntarenas.
Cruise tourism is reportedly up 16% in Guatemala this year. As many as 171,794 people arrived in Guatemala by cruise ships this year, contributing $772.6 million in revenue to the country’s economy. Reports say the figure represents an increase of 3.5 percent compared with the same period in 2014.
Cruise tourism benefits local tour operators, while ports and governments get money in taxes. St. Maarten and Bahamas are very popular with cruise tourists.